Sep 22, 2023

(Postive) EXPEND4BLES review by Patrick

Yes, I confess... I liked EXPEND4BLES! It's even worse... I liked it a lot!

I seem to be one of the very few who do though... The professional reviews are atrocious and even longtime fans seem to hate EX4. Is it the best EX film? No, it isn't. Is it among the Top 3? Nope. Is it a perfectly fine action film and a worthy addition to the franchise? It sure is in my book.

The Cast

Part I (the old gang)

It's all about expectations. If you expect EX4 to go along the lines of the first three films with older action stars from the 80s or 90s blowing shit up you should set yourself up for disappointment. The producers decided to deviate further from Sly's original idea than EX3 (although that one had Snipes, Gibson, and Banderas next to the new team) and came up with some inspiring choices and also some lame ones. Sly, Statham, Lundgren, and Couture are back from the original trilogy. I'll talk more about Sly and Statham later on. Lundgren has a bit more to do than in EX3, and good ole Randy Couture has arguably his biggest and best role in the franchise.

Part II (the new members)

The latest additions are hit and miss.
Megan Fox is pretty OK, provides a bit of eye candy but is nothing special. 50 Cent is no Terry Crews! He does his job but the charisma and the (ch)arms of Terry he hasn't. Iko Uwais of THE RAID's fame could have been used much more effectively but is an okay villain. He loses to JCVD, Mel Gibson, and Eric Roberts in the Best Villain race though. Tony Jaa is fine and shows a bit of his fighting chops.

My personal highlight of the new additions is Jacob Scipio as Galan. His role originally was intended to be EX3's Galgo to be reprised by Antonio Banderas. Due to scheduling conflicts Banderas had to bow out so the role was re-shaped into Galan, Galgo's son. And Scipio does a very good job channelling his inner Antonio.

While Levy Tran is mostly forgettable Andy Garcia is fine as the team's CIA contact turning rogue.

Excuse me, but what about Sly?

The scenes Sly is in are very good and the on-screen chemistry with Statham is still there. The behind-the-scenes problems between Sly and producer Avi Lerner that led to his diminished role in the end was well-covered on this very blog so I won't delve into that again. Critics who seem to be surprised and complain about Sly's lack of screen time didn't seem to have followed the shooting schedule in 2021. The fans knew that Sly's time in the movie was reduced and could prepare themselves for... 

The Jason Statham show! 

Jason Statham is front and center in this fourth installment. Is that a bad thing? Not in my book as Statham is my 2nd favourite actor ever behind Sly. But even if you don't go that far one can appreciate the skills and intensity he brings to all his roles.

Would it have been better if they had called this movie THE EXPENDABLES: A CHRISTMAS STORY as rumoured before? Maybe. Can one blame the producers to cash in on the more marketable 4 in the title though?

The Action

In short: it's absolutely fine! I read in some reviews that this movie was low on action. Come on! Really? I'm still suffering from a neck trauma after having booked one of those rattling and rocking movie seats!
Guns, knives, axes, hand-to-hand combat, you name it. It's all there. It's brutal and entertaining. What more can you ask for? 

The F/X

A lot was said and written about the supposedly horrible effects and the lackluster green screen work. To be honest I didn't find it so bad. You could see the obvious fake background here and there but did it pull me out of the movie? Did it look like 90s DTV as one reviewer mentioned? Of course not!

The music

That's my biggest gripe with this movie. No themes from the other three EXs appear. Not even a hint. And that I can't understand. The music is part of the franchise's DNA and part of its IP. Why didn't the producers demand that at least the main theme has to be included. Brings at least a smile on one's face when you hear it. Ludwig Göransson in the CREED films or Brian Tyler in the last two RAMBOs showed how to do it. Come up with great new melodies but also incorporating the classic themes. Is the score by new composer Guillaume Roussel bad? No, not at all. It's serviceable and has quite some energy. Still a missed opportunity! You might want to give the EXPEND4BLES Soundtrack a listen though.

Dare I ask? What about EX5?

It's all about the money! If EX4 makes a profit for Millennium there might be one. The budget was reported to be $100M but as Millennium in good old Cannon fashion likes to exaggerate a bit it's probably more like $70M. Marketing costs will likely not have been that much.
So when can EX4 be considered a success? A franchise that lay dormant for nine years probably opening at No. 1 in the US with about $15M (if the predictions at the time of writing hold) 
in a totally different marketplace can't be considered a bomb. To me the movie felt more like a restart than a final outing. If it reaches a $40M+ domestic total and $100M+ WW that would be fine nine years after EX3. The trades seem to think otherwise though and might write EX4 down as a flop if it doesn't make serious coin.
In which shape or form a possible EX5 will happen is anybody's guess. If Statham wants to return he will be the lead again. This would also guarantee a theatrical release. Would Sly be willing to support the cast once more (a bigger role is pretty much out of the question by now I guess) or have we already seen the last of Barney Ross?
If Millennium wants to or has to go on without Statham the budget will be reduced even more and EX5 might end up a DTV or streaming release. THE EXPENDABLES 5 ... starring Randy Couture... Hmmm, not so sure about that.
Assuming Statham and/or Sly remain the core of the franchise I at least hope that there's another EXPENDABLES film because no new entry of a film series (apart from ROCKY/CREED and RAMBO) excites me more in the lead-up to release than another one from Sly's mercenaries saga!


  1. I saw it today with a bunch of guys and the movie was awful with so many close up shots, you can't see things very clear. When you can see things clear, you will notice one of the worst special effects in a long time. Avi lerner have screwed this franchise

  2. That's great, man. I will watch it with enthusiasm. I also have no problem seeing Statham as the main character, because I like him too. I don't expect much exploration of Uwais and Jaa's fighting skills because that kind of thing only happened in EX1. Afterwards, only brief scenes were made, given the number of actors who needed to appear on screen. Critics are making a mistake when comparing EX4 to other films like John Wick in terms of martial arts, I mean, the other films are highly serious, with a single character who fights against everyone and had ultra-large budgets, that is, they had freedom to do huge fight scenes that explored a lot of martial arts things. The EX4, as you said, must have had 70 million. Shooting scenes costs money and they didn't have much money, apparently. Additionally, they had to include other actors who were not in the initial plans. But this makes me sympathize with the film even more, as they seem to have done everything to make it work. Through the interviews, everyone expressed happiness and satisfaction with the results and effort. Everyone appeared to have given their best.

  3. Good review

    You know, thinking back on it, what I also missed was an emotional conversation to add some depth, much like in the previous movies we had Tool's monologue about why he not wanted to fight anymore (part 1), Billy's story in the plane about his brothers in arms dying during an assault whilst in the army (part 2), or Galgo's story about why his original team of badasses wasn't around anymore (part 3).

    I thought that was a great tradition to have in this franchise. Now it just felt like all the dialogue scenes were quick, short and supposed to be funny. Like a true modern day movie adjusted to the rhythm of these times.. for a Red Bull drinking, social media addicted audience.

    About the soundtrack... well I loved "A horrible loss" indeed but most of the score was really disappointing.. I'm somewhat of a soundtrack nerd and this one really was kinda generic and sometimes pretty bad even. Some of it sounds like the score for a cheap ps1 game or something xD

    Also.... anyone else really disappointed by the "bar fight" ??

  4. Yes I was very disappointed in the bar fight. I was looking for a full brawl and Sly kicking ass. It was short and one sided, a Statham show

    1. Yeah exactly. I was hoping to finally have a true cool bar fight in an Expendables movie rather than a short quick beatdown. Sly seemed to tease a scene like that, the trailers and marketing definitely did too.

      to come back at the soundtrack that I previously said was real bad, I guess it has kiiiiiind of grown on me a little, little bit after listening to the score at Youtube.. but still nothing like Brian Tyler's score.

    2. The new score's growing on me too. It's miles away from Brian Tyler but it has energy and as I see EX4 as more of a restart of the franchise it fits that there's new music. They should have really used the original theme here and there though!

    3. Yeah, I think the original theme, although slightly remixed in the new composers' style, would've been awesome for example in the scene where the Expendables meet in the hangar at the beginning. A badass shot of just and only Sly, Statham, Couture and Lundgren and have them bump fists or whatever and then some notes of the original theme :)

  5. We should do a FANS' CUT...!